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Tokio Hotel in New York City

by @ 7:22 pm
Filed under: music

Dad, kids, and friend waiting for Tokio Hotel in NYCIf you are a teenaged girl (or a parent of one) in Europe you might have heard of the band Tokio Hotel. In fact, you may be one of the throngs of young fans. They are not so well-known in the US, but judging by the attendance at one of their shows in the Fillmore Theater in New York City last Monday, you might get to know them soon.

They are a sort of a Rock/Punk/New-Age band started by two 18-year-old twin boys, one on guitar and the other androgynous-looking one on lead vocals. The quartet also has the obligatory bassist and a drummer to round out the band. The band started a few years back in Germany and has grown like wild fire in Europe among the younger crowds. I was introduced to the band by my kids a couple of years ago when they returned from their annual summer trip in Germany visiting their grandparents.

So when Tokio Hotel finally made their first live debut on the east coast of the US, there was no denying my overjoyed children who were finally going to see their favorite band in concert. I can appreciate alternative music, but I have never been crazy enough about a band (or anyone for that matter) to wait for hours to get a glimpse, no less for a band that doesn't stir much for this middle-aged dad. The only other time I had been to a concert was back in 1987 as a teenager myself to see my favorite band, Boston, and there wasn't much waiting for that as seating was pre-assigned.

But waiting for Tokio Hotel is what I did. 5 hours of it on New York City's concrete with my children, one of their friends and her mom in tow. It was an interesting experience seeing a small corner of Manhattan from a lower altitude for hours on end. That followed by a rush of crazed young fans as they shuffled (more like stampeded) onto the floor for the standing only performance. After an hour of waiting inside like cattle being taken to the slaughterhouse, the band arrived and went into their act. Most of the songs were performed in English, with a couple of German ones thrown in to keep things authentic. Thankfully I had come equipped with earplugs. The muffled sounds were plenty enough for me.

The show went on for about an hour, but I had to rescue myself from the pushing and shoving waves of the young mass of humanity (including being trampled twice) long before the band took their bows. I just dragged my tired back (with the herniated disc, mind you) out of the floor and collapsed to the side with the other parents waiting listlessly for their kids.

Driving home that night, I wondered why parents sacrifice so much for their kids. Seeing their faces flushed with excitement from their first concert put that question to rest quickly. As for me, I can only hope this event fulfills my lifetime concert obligations to my children. Of course that may not extend to any future grandchildren.

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Boston, A Tribute to Brad Delp

by @ 8:38 pm
Filed under: music

boston album bostonTo state that Brad Delp deprived his fans from his voice by committing suicide would be selfish. But at the risk of sounding self-centric I am going to declare that Brad Delp deprived me of his amazing voice by taking his own life.

Back in 1976 when Boston's self-titled first album was released, I was a kid living far away from America and couldn't even speak English. My only knowledge of Boston was that of a city somewhere in the US. But all that changed when I arrived in the US as a student and was introduced to the band through friends and dorm residents in college. It was love at first hear and to this day I have never looked back.

boston album don't look backOn November 2nd, 1987 I actually got to experience Boston in concert at the Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, Connecticut. That's almost 20 years ago and my memory of the act is hazy, but I can confidently say that it was the best concert I ever saw. In fact it remains the only concert I have ever been to.

Some may dismiss Boston as an opening act to the hair band era of the 80's. Be that as it may, that doesn’t change the fact that for me Boston has always been one of the most admired bands, right up there with Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and The Doors. I realize that to some comparing Boston with those rock legends is akin to heresy. I can appreciate the sentiment, but that's their opinion and this is mine.

boston album third stageI didn’t know much about Brad Delp other than his voice delivery, and now, the way he died. Judging by what I've read in the media about the fact that he posted notes warning people of carbon monoxide, I can only infer that he was as dignified as he was talented.

As I write this I am listening to the song "Hitch a Ride" from Boston's first album. It is one of favorite cuts from their work. The music is still as fresh as the first time I heard it. I don’t really care why Brad decided to take his own life. I can only assume that he must have had a good reason. A man's entitled to do what he wants with his life, including ending it. In the end he might have deprived me from his voice, but he lives forever as the unmistakable sound of Boston.

Rest in peace, Brad.
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YouTube Copyright Trouble

by @ 12:19 am
Filed under: google,law,music,space

When Google bought the fledging, but popular video sharing site, YouTube, for $1.6 billion in early October of 2006, it created a firestorm of controversy surrounding the transaction. It seemed like we were back again in 1999, the height of the Internet bubble.

Google itself had actually launched its own video sharing site months prior to the acquisition. I had actually never visited the YouTube site, but had begun to check out some of the Google videos, mostly motorcycle stunt and race clips. Some praised Google for its quick action in grabbing a popular site instead of pouring cash and resources in its own service. But many were convinced that Google had overpaid. The acquisition translated to instant wealth for the YouTube executives and employees. Even the administrative assistant there became an over-night millionaire. Then began the task of integrating YouTube into the Google roster of products, the way it had been done a few years earlier with Blogger.

But it wasn't too long before the copyright monster started to rear its ugly head. Only a few days after the buyout announcement, YouTube acceded to the Japanese media's complaints by removing some 30,000 of their clips from its site. Obviously media companies weren't sanguine about having their work pirated and put on display on YouTube to begin with, but YouTube was a startup with little money. There was little to be gained by dragging a cash-poor company to court. But this was a different matter, Google was a titan, flushed with money and a rich valuation and the media was smelling blood.

The next big copyright news came on early February 2007 when Viacom demanded the removal of 100,000 clips from YouTube that it claimed to have had copyrights to. Finally the hammer fell today as Viacom came out swinging with a $1 billion lawsuit claiming that YouTube and its parent, Google, had failed to protect Viacom's copyright interests in regards to 160,000 videos on its site. There is speculation that the lawsuit is sour grapes, stemming from the fact that the two companies had failed to reach a licensing pact. It's difficult to predict the outcome of this litigation, but for its part YouTube maintains that it has and continues to make all reasonable efforts in protecting owners' rights on its site.

All this has some people questioning Google's initial decision to acquire YouTube and therefore find itself mired in the legal mess. But if Google had succeeded with its own video sharing site, it would have found itself in the same situation today, albeit at a lesser cost than the YouTube's purchase price. What I wonder is what effect all this distraction will have on nurturing and growing YouTube.

I, as a user, have been on YouTube a few times now. The user-generated clips of practical jokes and humorous situations were amusing at first, but the novelty quickly wore off. What I have generally been viewing consists of bits and pieces of news, educational material (mostly technology related), music videos, and nostalgic clips of old Persian TV. I assume most of these videos are copyrighted, and if complaints and subsequent removals continue, YouTube would soon have nothing for me to watch. I admit, some user-created material there have redeeming quality. I found this one very thought provoking, for example. But I even wonder if at some point this video will be axed as it plays a Pink Floyd tune in its introductory portion.

I have to admit that there was one genre of videos on YouTube I would watch for which I was labeled (deservedly) immature and childish by my family. These were clips of a popular 80's televangelist, Robert Tilton, embellished with audible flatulence perfectly synchronized with his contorted facial expressions. Guess what, those clips have also been removed, replaced by the following note: "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Reverend Robert Tilton." If the good Pastor succeeded in having YouTube delete these comedic but otherwise useless clips, I wonder if YouTube is on the proverbial slippery slope of losing the majority of its assets and thus its audience.

YouTube Copyright
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